December 15, 2021

U.S. Air Travel Consumer Report: September 2021 and 3rd Quarter 2021 Numbers


The U.S. Department of Transportation released its Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of September 2021 and 3rd quarter 2021 numbers (9 months data) for on-time performance, mishandled baggage, mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, complaints received, and oversales.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to result in significant changes to airline schedules and operations in September 2021. The 560,140 flights operated in September 2021 were 86.2% of the 649,667 flights operated in pre-pandemic September 2019. The 4,559,567 flights operated during the first nine months of 2021 were 76% of the 5,928,968 flights operated in pre-pandemic January to September 2019.

Operated flights in September 2021 were up 63.4% year-over-year from the 342,771 flights operated in September 2020 and down 5.5% month-over-month from the 592,760 flights operated in August 2021.

U.S. Airline Operated Domestic Flights


In September 2021, the 10 marketing network carriers reported 567,916 scheduled domestic flights, 7,776 (1.37 %) of which were canceled. In September 2020, the same airlines reported 345,294 scheduled domestic flights, 2,523 (0.7%) of which were canceled. In pre-pandemic September 2019, airlines reported 660,712 scheduled domestic flights, 11,045 (1.67%) of which were canceled. In August 2021, airlines scheduled 611,494 domestic flights, of which 18,734 (3.06%) were canceled.

September and 3rd Quarter 2021 On-Time Performance

In September 2021, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 84.5%, up from 74.3% in August 2021 and down from the all-time high of 92.9% in September 2020.

For the first nine months of 2021, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 81.47%, down from 82.87% in January – September of 2019.

Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates September 2021

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 94.0%
  2. Delta Air Lines Network – 90.2%
  3. American Airlines Network – 86.2%

Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates September 2021

  1. Allegiant Air – 73.7%
  2. JetBlue Airways – 74.3%
  3. Southwest Airlines – 80.2%

September Cancellations

In September 2021, reporting marketing carriers canceled 1.37% of their scheduled domestic flights, lower than the rate of 3.1% in August 2021 and higher than the 0.7% in September 2020.

Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights September 2021

  1. Delta Air Lines Network – 0.5%
  2. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.6%
  3. Alaska Airlines Network – 0.6%

Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights September 2021

  1. JetBlue Airways – 2.6%
  2. Southwest Airlines – 2.4%
  3. United Airlines Network – 2.0%

Tarmac Delays

In September 2021, airlines reported 17 tarmac delay of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to 37 tarmac delays reported in August 2021 and no tarmac delays reported in September 2020. In September 2021, airlines reported 0 tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to 4 tarmac delays reported in August 2021 and no tarmac delays in September 2020.

Airlines are required to have and adhere to assurances that they will not allow aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights without providing passengers the option to deplane, subject to exceptions related to safety, security, and Air Traffic Control related reasons. An exception also exists for departure delays if the airline begins to return the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point in order to deplane passengers by those times.

Mishandled Baggage

In September 2021, the reporting marketing carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.47 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, a lower rate than the August 2021 rate of 6.29 per 1,000 checked bags and higher than the September 2020 rate of 2.97 per 1,000 checked bags.

For the first nine months of 2021, reporting marketing carriers mishandled bags at a rate of 4.88 per 1,000 bags checked, higher than the 4.28 per 1,000 mishandled in 2020.

Bumping/Oversales

Bumping/oversales data, unlike other air carrier data, are reported quarterly rather than monthly.

For the third quarter of 2021, the 10 U.S. reporting marketing carriers posted an involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, rate of 0.16 per 10,000 passengers, lower than the rate of 0.17 in the second quarter of 2021 as well as in the third quarter of 2020.

For the first nine months of 2021, the marketing carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.15 per 10,000 passengers, a higher rate than the 0.13 for the same period last year.

Copyright 2021 Bureau of Transportation Statistics. All rights reserved. From https://www.bts.gov.

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